I recently had a conversation about the experience of being a Person of Color (POC) who grew up in and still lives in the hood but who is now an adult working in corporate white America. The culture shock can be jarring when you realize that gun violence, police brutality, and broken homes caused by trauma aren’t commonplace. It wakes you up to your reality. It can cause you to see life in a whole new light. It is often the moment that brings us to the realization that we have become desensitized and numb. It is sometimes the wake-up call that allows us to see our own persistent trauma and depression.
In the same breath it is also isolating, confusing and painful. It can increase the need or desire to code switch and make finding more POC in similar circumstances a necessary part of survival.
The questions then become: What do you do when the people you grew up with/in your neighborhood are still just trying to survive or already didn’t make it this far and you’re the only POC in the job where you spend all your time? How do you prevent from feeling empty, unseen and invalid?
I grew up in a household where I was always told my environment didn’t have to be permanent and wasn’t everyone’s reality. And while there was still a shock when I found myself face to face with that reality I think being mentally prepared helped me to not be so affected. As an adult, I have purposely placed myself in POC dominated spaces in my personal and professional lives to hold on to my sanity. Luckily those environments were made accessible to me by previous generations but everyone doesn’t have these same luxuries and I’m reminded of that when these topics come up.
I can’t even begin to count how many times these topics come up in session with the young adult POC I have as clients. Transitioning into adulthood is hard enough without having to face traumas you didn’t even know were there and being isolated by your intersectionalities.
It is important for those having this experience to find spaces where they can be themselves completely and unapologetically. It is equally important for those of us who have already found these space to make sure the spaces are available and accessible to others. It is one of the many reasons I started Manifesting Sisterhood, continue to create services specifically for people of color, and believe in the power of having a therapist of the same or similar background.
Those are my Thursday thoughts for yall. I would love to hear your experiences with these intersections of your life. What has been your experience? How do you manage it? What are some ways you support others in your life or community who may be in this transition as well?